Here’s Where to Get Your Carb Fix in San Diego
From classics in Little Italy to trendy trattorias around town, San Diego is a pasta-lover’s paradise. Whether you’re looking for upscale dining or a casual neighborhood spot, the Italian restaurants in San Diego never disappoint. From classic carbonara in a cozy Italian quarter shop to pasta prepared in aged Parmesan wheels in Hillcrest, you can find this impeccable cuisine all across the city’s many diverse neighborhoods. So, bring your appetite and get your elastic waistband ready. Here are our favorite places to chow down on pasta in San Diego. Mama mia!
Must Order: Tagliata di Manzo al Funghi
At Cesarina, you come for the pasta and stay for the vibes. Every inch of this Point Loma gem is perfectly decorated—from the rooster water jugs to the intimate patio. This hip hideaway is a pasta-lover’s dream come true. Cesarina makes every noodle by hand in an open-air pastificio—viewable from the dining room—and serves it on hand-painted plates. You can build your own pasta—choose the shape, sauce and topping—or select from one of their menu mainstays. When in doubt, the tagliata di manzo al funghi is always a great choice. Another major highlight of this restaurant is the comprehensive vegan menu, which features housemade ingredients like lentil polpette and almond-based ricotta.
Location: Point Loma
Must Order: Casarecce alla Vodka
Located on the 19th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel, Seneca Trattoria is a brand-new rooftop restaurant serving up some of the best Italian cuisine in town. This handsomely decorated spot has a modern take on Roman-inspired recipes and trattorias. The striped awnings, splash of pink accents and bold marble will have you feeling like you stepped onto the set of a Wes Anderson film. Seneca’s casarecce alla vodka is a decadent must-try with noodles smothered in creamy vodka sauce and topped with fresh ricotta. If you love carbs as much as we do, this one’s for you. Seneca also offers delightfully crafted cocktails and an extensive wine menu to pair with your pasta.
Location: Downtown San Diego
Must Order: Spicy Rigatoni
Founded by Puesto owner Eric Adler, Marisi is a feast for your eyes and a delight for your stomach. The handmade pasta here is as understated and elegant as the interior design. Everything about Marisi is immaculate, from its chic touches of wrought iron and seafoam green to its perfectly plated primi piatti. The rigatoni here is a must try. Executive chef Chad Huff and his team incorporate Calabrian chili to give this classic pasta dish an extra kick that perfectly complements the tomato-basil sauce. Word on the street is that Marisi’s focaccia is some of the best in San Diego—as if we needed another reason to fall into a carb-induced euphoria!
Location: La Jolla
Must Order: Grandma’s Ragu
Nestled on the border of Hillcrest and North Park, RustiCucina is a self-proclaimed farm-to-neighborhood eatery. This cozy yet modern restaurant serves up delicious pasta with locally sourced ingredients. RustiCucina’s covered patio immediately transports you from the hustle and bustle of Park Boulevard and eases you into an evening of good friends, fresh food and great wine. You can build your own plate with any kind of pasta shape and sauce—think classic spaghetti topped with Grandma’s ragu and many more options. Don’t forget to ask about the pasta tossed in a 36-month aged Parmesan wheel. We highly recommend finishing with a glass (or bottle!) of sparkling Moscato and an order of limoncello cake for the table.
Location: Hillcrest / North Park Border
Must Order: The Cheese Wheel Pasta Special
For a bit of theatrics with your meal, head to Monello in Little Italy. This place is famous for its pasta in a cheese wheel (are you noting a theme?). The trick to this version is that they peel cheese from the wheel and incorporate it into your dish To make things more interesting, the cheese-wheel special changes weekly, and this doesn’t even speak to the rest of the menu. Monello is a mainstay in the neighborhood for a reason. With 25 different fresh pasta varieties, which are all made in-house, and the locally sourced house sweet vermouth on tap, Monello is definitely a top choice.
Location: Little Italy12/9
Must Order: Buona Forchetta Sauce with your favorite pasta shape
Buona Forchetta is famous for its pizza, but don’t let that distract you from the fabulous pasta options on their menu. True fans know that their pasta is as delicious as the pie. This family-owned restaurant has locations throughout San Diego, including its original South Park location. The vibe here is upscale yet relaxed, making it a great spot for a date night or dinner with the girls. Every pasta dish on Buona Forchetta’s menu is build-your-own, so you can choose your favorite pasta shape. You can even take your order to the next level by requesting freshly made egg pasta. The house sauce—featuring spicy marinara, cream and an egg yolk on top—is a favorite too.
Locations: Multiple throughout San Diego10/26
Must Order: Ravioli di Magro Burro e Salvia
If you’re craving pasta, you can’t go wrong at Piacere Mio. The South Park and North County locations are bright and airy with an industrial edge—exposed brick walls are a critical part of the aesthetic. Both locations have a cozy patio, making it an ideal spot to share a bottle of wine with your date. Piacere Mio is known for its well-balanced pasta sauces. Everything is seasoned and cooked to perfection—from its long-simmering bolognese to its deceptively simple gamberi sauce. The homemade ravioli dishes are where Piacere Mio really shines. Every dish here is a master class in the foundation of flavor.
Location: South Park and North County
Must Order: Spaghetti alle Vongole
With its no-frills decor and down-to-earth storefront, Oltre Mare is truly a hidden gem in Pacific Beach. This family-owned Italian restaurant serves up hearty helpings of classics like wild boar bolognese and pappardelle al funghi porcini. You’ll feel like you’re dining in someone’s living room instead of one of the best Italian restaurants in San Diego. As its name suggests, Oltre Mare focuses on seafood-forward dishes from across the mother country. The pasta is freshly handmade; the seafood is top-notch. Do not miss the spaghetti alle vongole, a local favorite. The dish is stuffed to the brim with fresh clams and cooked with garlic and parsley in a housemade red sauce. Oltre Mare is an invitation to explore Italian tradition without having to leave town.
Location: Pacific Beach
Must Order: Fettuccine Maremonte
Little Italy isn’t the only place for great pasta in San Diego. Nestled between an auto shop and a small strip mall, Giardino Neighborhood Cucina is a hidden gem in Lemon Grove. Founded in 2017, this neighborhood spot serves up classic Italian food with a very genuine, homemade feel. Nostalgia is the name of the game here—inspired by home-cooked meals from Italian heritage. Every dish is a carefully crafted homage to the classics, such as fettuccine alfredo and cacio e pepe. Their fettuccine maremonte features shrimp, baby scallops and a truffle brandy cream sauce. It doesn’t get much better than that, right?
Location: Lemon Grove
Must Order: Spicy Vodka Rigatoni
It’s always a good day when a new Italian spot opens up. Cue Lucrezia, a brand-new restaurant at La Jolla’s Westfield UTC mall that’s all about living la dolce vita. This upscale dining spot is modern and sleek with an intimate feel. The rattan chairs, minimalist light fixtures and art deco-inspired bar will transport you out of the mall and into a retro-Italian ristorante. Enjoy Lucrezia’s housemade pasta on their piazza-style patio or at an intimate table for two inside. The carbonara includes egg yolk and English peas, with a satisfying bite from the perfectly thick bucatini pasta. The spicy vodka rigatoni is another standout dish if you want something with a slight kick.
Location: La Jolla
Must Order: Homemade Orzotto with Lobster and Shrimp
Ciccia Osteria is a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant in Barrio Logan known for its down-to-earth cooking and fresh ingredients. Walking into Ciccia is like accepting a hug from a beloved family member. There are handwritten menus, eclectic framed photos and shelves lined with cute tchotchkes (or cianfrusaglie, if we’re sticking with Italian) throughout the restaurant. Chefs Francesca Penoncelli and Mario Casineri craft pasta recipes as an homage to their grandmothers’ traditional cooking. Everything about the menu is carefully planned and curated—from the fresh ingredients to the expertly curated wine list. Dishes like the orzotto and pappardelle combine traditional flavors with innovative ingredients, such as poblano puree and lobster bisque. Finish with an amari or digestivi in the true Italian style!
Location: Barrio Logan
Must Order: Ligurian Pesto Linguine
Next time you’re in the East Village, make sure you make a stop at Monzu Fresh Pasta. This small restaurant may look casual at first glance, but they are serious about pasta. Started by husband-and-wife team Aldo de Dominicis Rotondi and Serena Romano in 2018, Monzu focuses on authentic flavors and organic ingredients. You can taste the quality the moment you take your first bite. Monzu also makes all of their pasta by hand daily. You can get everything from short rib ravioli to a vegetarian rigatoni alla norma. Their pesto is the star of the show, made from scratch and served with fresh burrata. The best part is that you can customize your pasta dish with add-ons like Italian fennel sausage, meatballs, spicy honey or even a whole ball of burrata.
Location: East Village
Must Order: Ravioli con Pesto alla Trapanese
Cori Pastificio Trattoria is nestled in North Park, home to owner and Chef Accursio Lota. This trattoria began as a labor of love and quickly transformed into a neighborhood favorite. The cozy yet modern restaurant changes its menu seasonally, so you’re always in for a treat. People tend to obsess over Cori’s fritelle cacio e pepe, a savory doughnut that’s a perfect start to any meal, but we promise the pasta is where you’ll want to arrive. Anything off their seasonal or special menu is bound to satisfy a pasta craving. They also offer housemade gluten-free pasta made with ancient grains. Cori’s vegan menu features slow-braised tomato sauce, vegan mozzarella and a slow-fermented focaccia that will have your mouth watering in no time.
Location: North Park
Must Order: Bone Marrow Cavatelli
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Barbusa has quickly become a staple of the Little Italy restaurant scene. Owned by the Busalacchi family, who had a hand in creating this slice of Italy in San Diego, Barbusa serves up Sicilian pasta dishes with just the right amount of elegance. The restaurant’s low-key, modern vibe makes it a great date night spot. There’s al fresco seating out front if you want to people-watch while you caio down. It’s hard to choose just one pasta dish to order from this menu, so we’re here to help narrow it down. The carbonara is topped with guanciale, peas and farm-fresh egg yolk—the way they make it in the homeland. Another must-try dish is the bone marrow cavatelli, featuring Sicilian sausage, ricotta, panna and a generous side of bone marrow. Buon appetito!
Location: Little Italy
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